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Archive for September, 2015

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17)

I was dealing with some mistakes that I had made, thankful for God’s conviction that caused me to stop and consider my impetuousness and impatience. I just really want to do what is right and not fall prey to my own lusts, pride, and selfish desires. Thank God that we have the Holy Spirit to keep us in line.

And then I thought about how that much of humanity probably feels exactly the same – we want to do what is right and pleasing to God (or our idea of some higher power). Everybody thinks that his or her view on reality is correct, while everyone else is slightly out of step. Some a bit more than others.

So what separates truth from fallacy? How do we determine which one of us is actually correct? Church of Christ members won’t associate with the Baptists across the street, Pentecostals feel sorry for everybody because they aren’t as enlightened as they are, the Methodists are clueless of whoever is around them, the Episcopalians are buried in their liturgies, and lets not even talk about the Mormons, Catholics, and Jehovah Witnesses. We call Muslim extremists radical, but to themselves, they are just on fire for their God and are trying to do the extreme righteous thing, even if it means breaking the commandments of God to do it. How crazy is that?

Where does it end? It doesn’t, because we are determined to grip onto our designated belief system in the face of all others. Why? Because we believe that is the one way for us to get to Heaven.

So how do we figure out who’s right? Surely everyone cannot be right, otherwise there would be no wrong, and by extension, no truth, no reality, and no great underlying meaning for life. As Einstein once quipped, “God does not play dice with the Universe”. There has to be something that shows us what the right way is.

There is. It is the power of God.

Paul wrote that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation – not the theory, doctrine, theology, idea, or calculated reasoning, but the power.

Is there the evident, palpable presence of the power of God in your church? Can you feel it, or do you just hypothesize that it is there? I am so tired of hearing that Jesus must be in the midst of us, “because the Bibles says that where two or three are gathered together in His name …” Pul-lease! Is that all you got? I want to FEEL the presence of God, not make believe!

Whatever happened to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on your services? Do you even know what that feels like, or do you just talk about it as something that you imagine? When you step inside the front door of your church, can you feel that electric feeling of the power of God? Do you feel like you are stepping into a cloud of holiness, and the chilling fear of God comes over you because you feel like you are right in the presence of God?

No, I didn’t think so. If there were, there’d be a whole lot more going on at your church. You wouldn’t be able to keep the crowds out.

What about the miracles? Gideon’s response to the angel in Judges 6, when he was being told that God has chosen him to deliver Israel, was that talk is cheap. If everything the angel was saying was so true, THEN WHERE ARE THE MIRACLES OUR FATHERS TOLD US ABOUT?

When is the last time you saw the blind receive their sight, the cripple walk, and the deaf to hear? Please don’t hand me that weak response about how God is going to guide the surgeon’s hands. C’mon, if God is so powerful that He can stop the sun, why can’t He heal the sick anymore? I’m not talking about gradual, osmotic healing – I’m talking about immediate, miraculous, in-your-face, supernatural power right now. What’s the matter? Don’t you believe in that anymore?

Something is missing, and it is the power of God. “These signs shall follow them that believe.” You are supposed to have real, tangible Holy Ghost power, and when you don’t, you are no better than anyone else out there. Actually, you’re worse, because you’ve been given this gift to distinguish you from the rest of the world, but you have squandered the grace of God and let it slip through your fingers.

So how do we figure out who is right and who is wrong? Through the power of God. It is the one thing that we have that no one else does, and God gives it to us to show the world that He is God. (Isaiah 43:10) But it is not free; neither is it cheap. If you are not wiling to crucify your flesh, break your spirit and dive into the Spirit of God, then you will come up empty-handed.

Talk is cheap.  When the real power of God is working in your church, there is no question.

And when it is not, there is no answer.

“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”  (Joel 2:17)

Brother Dale

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Door-Knocking

I went knocking on doors today to invite people to church. They call it Visitation down here in Texas.

One guy hadn’t gone to church in ages. But hey, he was okay. He still considered himself a church member even though he couldn’t remember when the last time was that he had been there. Besides, he said, he didn’t come because the seats were too uncomfortable for his wife. We had cushioned chairs, but she needed the old wooden pews for some reason. Go figure.

His neighbor was different. No, he didn’t go to church anywhere, and he probably wasn’t going anytime soon. Yeah, his brother got saved and he knew it was real, but it just wasn’t for him.

What are you supposed to say to these folks? The cushions hurt your back so you’re not going to go to church? I couldn’t help thinking about the people in Africa who would walk for 10 to 12 hours just to come to our revival services. And then sleep on the ground on a bamboo mat for three days just so they could hear the Word of God. But you’re not going to come unless the church has the right kind of chairs?

Or his neighbor who knows that salvation is a real experience but consciously turns his face away so he can ignore it. What is he thinking? That if he doesn’t look at it, it will dissolve? God will go away if you ignore Him? Hell won’t burn if you wish it away?

Unfortunately, these responses are so common that I would venture that most people fall into one category or the other. Either you convince yourself that because you consider yourself a church-goer then you don’t have to worry about your eternal destiny anymore, or you convince yourself that if you don’t look at the truth, it will go away. Both are self-induced delusions.

But whose fault is it that so many people are like these two?

I am not making a case for church for church’s sake, but I do believe that the church is the place that we are supposed to gather to as believers, where we get nourished, reproved, and inspired. When you cut yourself off from the hierarchy of believers that God has set up, then you are setting yourself up for a fall.

But many would say that the churches are not what they are supposed to be anymore, that they are dead in comparison to what they once were. Agreed, but will that excuse hold water when you stand before God? It was the Church’s fault? Adam tried to blame Eve in the same way. It didn’t work for him. Do you really think it will work for you?

Maybe the churches have failed you. So what? Then go find a group of believers like yourself, or start your own church, but for heaven’s sake, don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore it. The problem will not go away if you don’t do something about it.

Yes, we need a revival. Desperately. I don’t think many people realize how badly. We need a revolution in our churches. We have become like the children of Israel who spent 400 years in slavery. Why so long? Because they got used to the slavery and settled into their bondage. It wasn’t until God, in His mercy, sent a Pharaoh who was so bad that he started killing their babies that they began to cry out to God for deliverance.

But when they cried unto God in their desperation, He heard them and sent a mighty deliverance.

Are we at that point yet? Or will God have to send something that is so terrible that it will make 9/11 look small in comparison. If He does, it will be in His mercy to bring us to our knees. Only then will He be able to answer our cries for help.

Revival does not come cheap and it does not fall out of the skies. It has to be sought for with all your heart. But it is always worth the price.

The alternative is Hell

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“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” Titus 3:1

(Sounds like good advice for our political candidates.  I wonder if any of them have read this.)

Of all the commandments in the Bible, these have been some of the hardest for me to keep.  The big sins that we all know about are obvious – don’t commit fornication, don’t get drunk, don’t lie, don’t steal, etc.  It’s relatively easy to avoid them because they are so blatant.

If I want to shoot some Pool, I need to go to the Bowling Alley instead of a topless bar.  If I want some trinket bad enough, I need to go to work and pay for it instead of stealing it.  If I am caught in a tough situation, better I should just shut up than lie my way out of it.

Okay.  That seems simple enough.  I can do that.

Then there are all those commandments that we make up.  And there’s a bunch of them.

Like you have to go to church on Sunday and sit through some theological dissertation that is intellectually endowed, but spiritually lifeless.  Somehow that misses the whole purpose of church.  I want to go where the power of God is experienced, not just talked about.

Or, you can’t wear lipstick, or you can’t talk about religion, or you have to be nice, or you have to dress nice, or you can’t have long hair, or you can’t smoke a cigarette, and on and on.

Yeah, I can do all those things too.  I don’t think that’s what is going to get me into Heaven, but that’s all right.  It’s a lot easier to go along with a lot of this stuff just to avoid the hassle.

But I really get stuck on attitudes and social skills.  It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut sometimes when I see things that are just dead wrong — especially when it concerns people who are supposed to be in authority as leaders of the Church.

Is it speaking evil when you call a preacher to task for being lukewarm?  Is it being a brawler when you confront the con artists on TV that make lying promises based on how much money they can suck out of poor unsuspecting Christians?  Am I required to obey some supposed spiritual big shot when they are leading the people down a path that leads to Judgment just because they have a Ph.D.?

Does meekness mean being submissive to leaders who have no power in God and have lost their way?  Am I just supposed to be nice?

I guess I’m just a very baaaad boy.  But I take comfort in the fact that I’m in good company.  The old prophets were the same way – in fact, they were worse.  Even Jesus whipped them out of the Temple and called them some pretty nasty names.  And don’t get Peter, Paul, and James started!  They had a few choice words also.

I guess I’m just an old-fashioned, Holy Ghost Texas preacher with a New York attitude who doesn’t give a rip what they think.  If they’re a Jack of Spades, then they ain’t no Ace of Hearts.

I once asked the Lord back when I was preaching on the radio if we could please tone these messages down a bit. The messages were fierce every week. And they were directed by name to the local pastors. They were hearing all this outrageous rebukes. And I do mean outrageous.

“After all”, I explained, “I’m not making any friends here.  In case you hadn’t noticed, God, these guys are not exactly asking me to go bowling with them on Fridays.”

You know what the answer was?

While I was praying, the Spirit of God came down, and I could feel that ice cold feeling like, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble again”.
He spoke directly to me (and yes, God does speak directly to us):

“That is not your broadcast,
and that is not your message,
and they are not your people.
Now, you tell them what I tell you to tell them … and you tell them I sent you!”

And He didn’t sound very nice when He told me that.

Brother Dale

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“Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him…” Mk 6:20

If you picked up a newspaper today and saw that John the Baptist was holding revival services at a local church, would you drop everything you’re doing to make it there?  How about Elijah?  or Peter?  Would it be because they are famous?  Or is it because you would expect to hear a man speak with authority in God?

Souls are drawn to men of God who can stand up in the power and authority of God.  Revivals are poured out on anointed vessels to whom people flock to hear the Word of God and see the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit work.  They came to Jesus to be healed, but stayed to listen because He spoke with authority.

We need that authority today.  Actually, we are desperate to see a man of God stand up in that kind of power and authority.  We have a lot of nice preachers, quite a few charlatans, and a whole pile of evangelists who would have you believe that they are the vanguards of the next great move of God, but we don’t have any John the Baptist’s, Elijah’s, or Paul’s.  Why is that?

Search the Scriptures and you will find that the kind of power and authority we are referring to only comes the hard way.  We all read and pray, but how many of us STORM the Throne?  We fast, but how many of us crucify our flesh?  And what is it that we seek the face of God for?  For ourselves, or for the lost souls of others?  All this only lifts us up to a higher plateau in God.

The real holy boldness, the real strength and power in God, and the genuine authority in God only comes through the fear of the Lord.  That is what gives a man strong confidence, makes his face to shine, gives him that entrance into the presence of God’s power.  Moses’s knees smote together, David’s flesh trembled, the prophet’s spoke of Him being their dread, Paul feared and trembled.  It is the common attribute for every powerful man with authority in God.  And we need that today.

In the last 20 to 30 years, the message of the Fear of the Lord has been extracted from our pulpits and has been preached out of our hearts to the point that most Christians don’t even believe it anymore.  They’ve been told that Love is the most important element.  Read carefully, my friend.  The Love of God is not possible without the Fear of the Lord.  Neither is wisdom, understanding, depth, or power.  And we will not see revival, nor a strong move of God, nor another strong man of God to stand up in the kind of authority we so desperately need without the Fear of the Lord.

Brother Dale

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